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PA Research Foundation

How a small team at Queensland-based health charity, PA Research Foundation, created a hyper-engaged community to raise over $140,000 via a Facebook Challenge





Solutions used:

Facebook Challenges


Partner Support

New to Facebook Challenges and with limited success of P2P fundraising, PA Research Foundation in Australia chose to trial the income stream as a way to fund breast cancer research.

PA Research Foundation chose to trial Facebook Challenges on the recommendation from agency, Flat Earth Direct, as a way to expand their data and supporter base and develop a new income stream through peer-to-peer fundraising. 

We spoke to Meredith Barker, Digital Marketing Coordinator, and Melissa McMahon, Campaigns Manager, to find out how their first Facebook Challenge of 100 Squats a Day in April went and why they said they “had no idea it would be so successful.

Set the scene

Who is PA Research Foundation?

PA Research Foundation is an Australian nonprofit that works with its community of donors and supporters to raise funds for life-saving medical research and patient care advancement at the Princess Alexandra Hospital in Queensland. 

Through campaigns like Project Pink and Mandate, the nonprofit helps to fund five areas of skin cancer, prostate cancer, breast cancer, other health, and other cancer. However, their focus had predominantly been on regular giving and had had limited success with peer-to-peer fundraisers in the past. 

Keen to kickstart a new income stream and build relationships with supporters already fundraising on Facebook, PA Research Foundation joined GivePanel. Working closely with Flat Earth Direct, a partner of GivePanel’s and an agency dedicated to direct response fundraising for good causes, PA Research Foundation launched its first Facebook Challenge in April 2022.


What people are saying

It was a massive community with a lot of camaraderie and women supporting women. It was really beautiful.

- Melissa McMahon

The challenge

100 Squats a Day in April

A Facebook Challenge is a virtual event that runs solely on Facebook and leverages the power of social networking through ads, groups and fundraisers. This means: 

  • Lower acquisition costs
  • More fundraisers
  • And a chance to meet supporters where they already are! 

PA Research Foundation worked with Flat Earth Direct on the concept of their first Facebook Challenge directed at those affected by breast cancer. They found that the activity of squats resonated with their audience and provided an activity that was inclusive and didn’t involve equipment. The goal total of 3000 squats in the month also tied into their messaging of how 3000 lives are lost to breast cancer in Australia each year which meant the team could relate their fundraising ask with the activity. 

To support the initial setup of their Facebook Challenge, PA Research Foundation partnered with Flat Earth Direct who, alongside evolving the initial activity, also developed and supported with: 

  • Design elements such as ad creative and Facebook group and fundraiser imagery
  • Copy for group content, emails, fundraiser description, and on-page messaging 
  • A content schedule with suggested copy for Facebook group engagement
  • Ad management and audience selection

This allowed PA Research Foundation to focus on time-consuming tasks such as the fulfillment of their t-shirt incentive and supporter engagement through ad and group moderation. 

And with over 4,000 members in their Facebook Challenge group, the team had their work cut out for them! Here are five things we learned about PA Research Foundation’s 100 Squats a Day in April Facebook Challenge group:

  1. Their audience was largely made up of new supporters to the nonprofit and the demographic was mainly women with a connection to breast cancer.
  2. Whilst the team did recruit Challenge Champions prior to the campaign beginning, they felt the engagement lacked the authenticity that they found with natural engagers in the group. They reached out to these individuals instead to capture their stories and reasons for supporting them.
  3. There were some instances of conflict within the group with one member sending abusive messages to others however, the team took decisive action to maintain a safe and supportive environment for all members. 
  4. The team ran a competition during the Challenge month with a goal of raising AU$15 or more to be in with a chance of winning a pack of branded goods however, it received little engagement. Takeaway? Don’t be afraid to test and fail! 
  5. Whilst the competition didn’t produce the results PA Research Foundation had anticipated, they did find that their best engagement came from interactive content such as simple questions, ‘selfie’ collages, song suggestions for squatting, and fundraising updates. 

The GivePanel difference

Meeting supporters where they are

With‭ ‬GivePanel, you can run virtual events and Challenges entirely on Facebook and manage all of your data with ease‭. ‬Our Facebook Group event registration forms sync with Facebook transaction data so that you have all of your data in one place‭. ‬Our fundraiser engagement and messages tools mean that you can give Facebook fundraisers the experience they deserve resulting in more contact details collected and funds raised‭.‬

PA Research Foundation made use of various tools within the GivePanel app to aid stewardship of supporters, including: 

  • Email journeys to support communication with Fundraisers.
  • Custom fundraisers to provide a seamless experience for supporters and boost data collection.
  • Reporting functionality to track Facebook Challenge progress giving the ability to react if necessary.

When asked if PA Research Foundation would recommend GivePanel and Facebook Challenges to other nonprofits, they responded “Yeah definitely, if you have the resources. As we were saying, it’s an awesome way to tap into a new audience connected to your cause that you may not have otherwise been able to discover.

The results

The Challenge in numbers




Group Members




Active Fundraisers


Total Raised

Final thoughts

Key takeaways from PA Research Foundation

As well as an incredible amount raised, PA Research Foundation also benefited from connecting with new supporters, converting a high number over to their main Facebook page to continue engagement and stewardship. 

Here are PA Research Foundation’s four main takeaways from trailing their first Facebook Challenge: 

  1. The team found that group moderation was a time-consuming process and so to tackle this, planned a scheduled rota for their next Challenge.
  2. They stressed the importance of stewardship internally, taking every opportunity to connect with supporters and encourage them to fundraise.
  3. Their first Facebook Challenge was run at a time when there was little competition in Australia and this contributed to its success.
  4. After the Challenge finished, PA Research Foundation sent an automated email from the GivePanel platform which encouraged supporters to follow their Project Pink Facebook Page. They plan to use the data collected throughout the Challenge to send out a newsletter and mention ways members can continue to support breast cancer research, moving them beyond Facebook.

Melissa McMahon

PA Research Foundation

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